In 1999 Ozzy Osbourne denounced the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, explaining that it was nothing more than the music industry playing puppeteer with already established musicians by saying:
Just take our name off the list. Save the ink. Forget about us. The nomination is meaningless, because it’s not voted on by the fans. It’s voted on by the “supposed” elite of the industry and the media who’ve never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives, so their vote is totally irrelevant to me. Let’s face it, Black Sabbath have never been media darlings. We’re a people’s band and that suits us just fine.
Since then, much to his own chagrin, Osbourne and his epic hard rock band Black Sabbath have been inducted to the Hall of Fame. However, he brings up a good point, the truly great bands, the ones that survive the test of time and do deserve to be apart of the Hall, they are the byproducts of talented musicians and incredibly faithful fans. So why is a panel of music industry “elites” making the decisions?
Let’s just start with Guns N’ Roses, the potential for what may happen at the induction ceremony is limitless. Will Slash and Axl take the stage together? Will Axl refuse to perform due to his issues with Slash? Will they decide to put their issues aside and lay to rest one of the more interesting feuds in music? Let’s face it, if Slash were to give them the option of putting the band back together and Axl was so inclined, those tickets would sell in a massive way.
But does it mean they were the most deserving band?
And what about the other inductees representing the early ’90s music scene - The Chili Peppers? The Beastie Boys?
Of course, you could always point to the inductions of Donovan, The Faces & Laura Nyro to say the decision wasn’t political and is fully based on merit, but is it? Laura Nyro has been nominated for the past three years and if they weren’t going to add her as an honoree then they might as well let her rest in peace (Nyro’s been dead since 1997). The fact is that they were going to keep nominating her until it happened and, with the way women artists are outnumbered in the hall, it was widely considered a no-brainer.
Other than Donovan, the inductees seemed predictable. Personally, based on how the panel picks artists, I would have thought the Hall would have gone with The Cure over Donovan given their general predilection to pick artists who can still tour.
Perhaps Ozzy had it right, having a group of music industry insiders induct you into a hall of fame club is a meaningless numbers game, consistent with the business side of the music business. Perhaps Ozzy has his finger on the pulse with his statement that the true merit of an epic band or musician begins with an epic career and unwavering fan loyalty.
Then again, getting a sweet space in a museum in Cleveland telling the world that you were one of the best, EVER, must be pretty rewarding too.